How safe are artificial sweeteners for people with diabetes?

The artificial sweeteners on the market are generally recognized as safe by the U.S. Food & Drug Administration, the American Diabetes Association and the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics. Yet all have controversy in their history that makes some people nervous.

The commonly used artificial sweeteners are aspartame (NutraSweet, Equal), sucralose (Splenda) and saccharin (Sweet’N Low). Many in the natural health community worry about the safety of any food produced in a laboratory instead of in nature, despite all the official assurances. Reports suggesting links between artificial sweeteners and a variety of serious illnesses appear frequently in the media. These include cancers, neuralgic diseases and behavioral problems in children. However, the FDA has investigated and dismissed these concerns and has concluded that the artificial sweeteners are safe.

Stevia (Truvia) is a fourth alternative coming into common usage. Unlike other sugar alternatives, stevia is a natural ingredient, a leaf extract from an herb. Truvia is a relatively new product, but stevia in liquid and powder form has long been available in health food stores (the “green packet”). For many years, stevia could be sold only as a dietary supplement. It has been allowed as a food additive in the U.S. only since 2008.

As with most things, “everything in moderation” seems a good rule to follow. Don’t use artificial sweeteners with abandon, as if they didn’t matter to your health, and learn to use sugar in moderation as part of your meal plan. A certified diabetes educator can help you prepare that personalized meal plan and help you make decisions about the best choices for you.

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Important: This content reflects information from various individuals and organizations and may offer alternative or opposing points of view. It should not be used for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. As always, you should consult with your healthcare provider about your specific health needs.